In the news

In October the Institute released A review of farm funding models and business structures in Australia. Considerable media attention followed, including the articles: ‘Bank debt alternatives needed for ag says Farm Institute’, by Andrew Marshall on Farm Online (1/11/2016); and ‘Farmers told to seek alternatives to the bank loan, overdraft’, by Sue Neales in The Australian (2/11/2016).

In November the Institute held its Agriculture Roundtable Conference for the thirteenth consecutive year. Conference sessions were reported in the articles: ‘Talking Point: New index will take the guesswork out of buying farm businesses’, by Jan Davis in the Mercury (30/11/2016); and Andrew Marshall’s article in The Land, ‘Long-term ag investors are keen, but can’t find what they need’ (24/11/2016):

The Australian Farm Institute’s (AFI) Agriculture Roundtable Conference has highlighted a few home truths behind the miserly levels of investor sector support for farming, but a lack of patient, long-term investment interest was not really one of them.

AFI’s Research General Manager, Richard Heath, said financial advisory group BDO had observed investment funds were cautious about ag largely because not enough ‘investable products’ were available, and funds ‘expected’ levels of return would be too low.

Too few asset managers covered the sector and information about agricultural investment was insufficient.

Free trade agreements and foreign investment in agriculture are two topics that the Institute has been closely following for a long time. Richard Heath, General Manager Research, was recently interviewed by George Yang from Phoenix Satellite Television on the benefits of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement for Australian agriculture, and whether recent extreme weather conditions would impact on exports to China this year (6/01/2017).

AFI staff update

Ed Perrett has been appointed to the role of Research Officer at the Institute. Ed has recently returned from the Netherlands where he completed a Masters of Agricultural Production Chain Management at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. His studies focused on value chain management and included a thesis investigating price risk management in the Australian dairy industry. Ed has experience working on his extended family’s grazing properties in Victoria and the NSW Riverina, and spent two years working for the Sheepmeat Council of Australia.

Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture Conference

Digital agriculture is rapidly evolving to be a much bigger story than individual pieces of technology. The potential for data acquired through digital agriculture to fundamentally change supply chains and business systems is real and immediate. The Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture conference will examine the actual and potential impacts of digital agriculture, and how farmers, agribusinesses and policy-makers can harness the benefits associated with the changes that are occurring.

The Australian Farm Institute convened a highly successful Digital Disruption in Agriculture conference in June 2016. The conference explored how digital technologies have the potential to change farm production practices and inform decision-making on-farm through accumulation and analysis of vast amounts of data. As digital agriculture technologies mature it is becoming obvious that the impacts of data collected on-farm and post-farm will reach well beyond the point in the supply chain that the data originated from. While some may see this as a threat, it also provides opportunities for more efficient supply chains and entirely new models for service delivery.

This year’s conference will go beyond the individual applications to explore the ways that agricultural supply chains, business systems and government and market compliance systems will be fundamentally changed by the application of digital technology.

The conference will be held at the Crown Promenade Melbourne, with two full conference days on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 June, and a dinner including a keynote speaker on the evening of Thursday 15 June.


Recently the Institute’s Executive Director, Mick Keogh, has spoken at:

  • AgFutures Innovation and Investment Conference, Brisbane
  • Ruralco Annual Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland
  • AgLink Conference, Sydney
  • AgriMinds, North Sydney
  • CSIRO AgCatalyst – ‘Innovation – why should we care?’ panellist, Sydney
  • International Nitrogen Initiative Community Forum panellist, Melbourne.

Image:  USDA